COLUMBIA – With the Missouri men's basketball team ranked No. 2, Tigers' coach Frank Haith sees an opportunity to educate his players.
“It’s a classroom. It’s our time to teach," Haith said. "As well as handle adversity, you’ve got to handle the other stuff, too. We’ve got to be able to handle the praise in a way where we don’t let it affect us in a negative way in terms of how we perform and how we prepare.”
No. 2 Missouri (18-1, 5-1 Big 12)
at Oklahoma State (9-10, 2-4 Big 12)
WHEN: 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, Okla.
RADIO: KCMQ 96.7 FM
A large part of the team's preparation under Haith has been watching tapes to analyze and learn from their past performances as well as scout upcoming opponents.
Senior center Steve Moore said film has been a top priority for the team. Players are able to see their mistakes and gain an edge on how to defend their opponents. They know the opposing players' names, and they know what’s coming. They see it coming, Moore said.
“They’ve been hungry. They want us to keep feeding them. That’s been noticeable,” Haith said. “When guys seek you out to watch tape, that’s when you know you’ve got it. You know you’ve got their attention.”
The success the Tigers have keeps them interested in the preparation process, and Haith said they’re soaking it up.
Senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe, who was named Big 12 Conference Player of the Week and the Lute Olson National Player of the Week on Monday, said since Haith became coach he has been teaching Ratliffe “a lot of little stuff,” including different techniques to use in post play.
“He pays so much attention to detail, a lot more than other coaches,” Ratliffe said.
Even the stain on Missouri’s 18-1 record that came from a loss at Kansas State has educational value. Haith said Kansas State “out-toughed us,” and he shared with his team an article about the importance of mental toughness, using it as a teaching tool.
Another lesson Haith conveys to his players is that one big win or one tough loss won’t define who his team is.
“I can’t control the polls or any of that stuff. And right now, that’s a nice thing, a great accomplishment,” Haith said. “And this is me personally, but my goal is to continue to help these men grow, and that’s what we’re going to do.”